Magazine article Tikkun

Social Security?

Magazine article Tikkun

Social Security?

Article excerpt

I'm sure you're not surprised that we don't support President Bush's proposed economic reforms. We believe that they are yet another cover for dismantling one of the last vestiges of the American welfare state first created by President Roosevelt's New Deal legislation during the 1930s.

The principles of tikkun olam require that we take care of the well-being of every single person on this planet. Offering food (through food stamps), housing (through block grants), and lifetime security (through programs like Social security) are the least we can do. Yet, even as we believe in ensuring material security, we know that the only real security comes from being part of a loving and caring community.

The liberal/progressive world has been too afraid of "values" to talk about their work in this way. Instead, New Deal and Great Society programs focused on "objective caring"showing their concern for others through the delivery of money or benefits-ignoring the need to simultaneously foster "subjective caring"-the experience of feeling cared for by a loving community. Liberal social programs worried about how to deliver benefits, but never about how to make people aware that these benefits were a manifestation of a collective caring for each other. Government workers who administered these programs were never rewarded for showing subjective caring, or for worrying about how to convince the recipients that what stood behind these benefits was a community that sought to provide for our security through organizing society in a caring way.

Without this concern, benefits appeared to be simply money coming to individuals from the government. Without the sense of a caring community, it was inevitable that many would see themselves as lone individuals whose real security came from how much money they had available. And if security comes from money alone, then Republican ideas about the free market will sound attractive. …

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